October Book Club Pick: In the Fields by Willow Aster
I picked this book for the October book club not because it was the best book I’d read but for two reasons. It was emotionally compelling and I thought readers would appreciate that and second it featured an interracial relationship set in the 1970s and that would give us a lot to chew over.
In the Fields was self published by the author. You can buy the book here:
My review is here. I asked the author a few questions about the book to prime our discussion pump. Our book club is essentially this featured post and the comments. Feel free to jump in at any time.
In one interview you said you’ve been working on In the Fields for seven years. What did you find most challenging about the story?
I wanted to tell the truth but not be offensive either…walking that balance can be really difficult.
You included a few scenes from Isaiah’s point of view, but I really felt this was Caroline’s journey. What was her emotional starting point and her ending one?
I think she started out being naive and idealistic, but by the end of the story, she was stronger than all of them put together, while still being ‘Caroline’.
The Southern culture was almost a character itself in the book. How do you feel it is best to create a rich setting for your book?
I like to read stories where you feel like you know the place, even if you’ve never been there. It has to feel authentic to be believable…that’s why it’s good to write what you know.
In the Fields is a story spanning almost a decade in the 70s. Why the 70s and not earlier or later? Do you think if you wrote an interracial romance set in the contemporary period that there would be the same issues that Caroline dealt with in the 70s?
I wanted it to not be any earlier, so it would be believable that Caroline and Isaiah really could be together. And I didn’t want it to be contemporary because I think a lot of people don’t realize the extent of how this still goes on today. The 70s was a time of shaking things up, even though Tulma hadn’t quite gotten there yet.
Did you encounter any resistance to publishing this story? I.e., was it one that you had submitted and it was rejected or did you always plan to self publish it?
Yes, I did encounter resistance. Probably another reason it took me 7 years to just do it anyway.
Interracial romances are not easy to find. Are there a few that you would recommend?
The Secret Life of Bees was one book that gave me hope that mine might have a place.
How has the reader response been? Have you been surprised? Is there any memorable exchange you could share?
I’ve been so moved and shocked by the stories I’ve gotten to hear from readers…mostly children of mixed parents or people who have family who suffered because one of them loved someone they ‘shouldn’t’. Others have simply said that this story is so relevant for TODAY because they still see these issues going on.
What’s next for Willow Aster?
Well, I’ve started three other books…all completely different from each other. I can’t do anything too heavy right now, needing to lighten up for this next one. We’ll see if I can pull that off. :)